Mercury, the figure on the left is looking off the canvas to, according to reports of the time, a companion picture. His presence is intended to bring good weather. The House of Medici who commissioned the painting was a political dynasty, banking family, and royal family that rose to prominence in Florence, Italy. The family’s vast wealth was based on the establishment of the Medici Bank which became the most prosperous in Europe.
With vast wealth came vast power. The Medici family produced four popes, two queens of France, and the Grand Duchy of Florence which was ruled by the family until the 18th century. The family was great sponsors of art and frequently had themselves depicted in the art they sponsored. Mercury may have been modeled after a Medici – either Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco or his cousin Giuliano. Mercury is picking an orange from the orange trees, symbols of the Medici family, that provide a background for the painting.
Tomorrow, another piece of the painting.